What's happening at Giant Mine? – January/February 2020

Previous releases

Engagement update

Perpetual care plan engagement

Giant Mine's remediation is expected to take approximately 10 years, but the project itself has a defined life of 100 years.

It is important that, once active remediation is complete, there is a plan in place for how the site will be managed and how future generations will be informed about the site. This plan also needs to include considerations for how records are managed and assess future risk scenarios that could impact perpetual care of Giant Mine.

As part of planning, the project team has begun engaging with the parties to the Giant Mine Remediation Project Environmental Agreement. The project team held the first workshop to start building a common understanding of what a perpetual care plan should contain, as well as any next steps for the site, on October 31, 2019.

From this group of participants, the team established a task force to provide recommendations to the Giant Mine Working Group about the perpetual care plan. The project team will engage with this task force and the working group as they develop the plan over the coming year.

Quantitative risk assessment engagement

The project expects to see the final report with the results from the quantitative risk assessment in February. The project team will report these results back to the Giant Mine Working Group, the North Slave Métis Alliance, and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation at meetings that will take place the week of February 24th. They will also present an update as part of the project team’s annual public forum. The public forum is scheduled for March 9 at 7 p.m. at the Museum Café.

Borrow and pit fill engagement

As part of the Giant Mine site remediation, the project team will need to use borrow material, such as rock, gravel or soil. The project will use borrow material:

  • to fill or partially fill pits
  • to cover contaminated soils
  • to cover tailings
  • for other remediation work on site

The Giant Mine Remediation Project team intends to source its borrow on-site. Off-site sources will be considered if:

  • delays in sourcing on-site borrow could greatly impact the project schedule
  • the volume of suitable borrow on-site is less than the project needs
  • it costs the same or less to get borrow off-site than it does on-site
  • partners and the project would both benefit from an offsite borrow source

The project team held a total of 3 borrow engagement sessions with the North Slave Métis Alliance, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and the Giant Mine Working Group on December 3, 4 and 5, 2019. The purpose of these engagement sessions was to:

  • share information about the current state of the borrow design on-site
  • allow the project team to hear the parties’ concerns
  • to learn what is important to the parties with respect to choosing borrow source locations

The project team expects a report of the feedback to be completed in early 2020, and that this input can then be shared at the public forum.

This image shows an aerial illustration of a potential borrow area on the Giant Mine site. Tailings are on the left side of the photo.  A dirt road traverses in between the outcrop and trees mid-photo, and a paved road is visible on the right side of the photo, with trees on either side.
Illustration of a proposed coarse grain borrow site, located adjacent to the North West Pond

Upcoming request for information for external borrow sources

The Giant Mine Remediation Project team will be posting a request for information, expected to be on BuyandSell in March 2020. This is not a contract bid. Instead, the project is looking to find out if suppliers are interested in providing off-site borrow and what they might be able to offer, as well as to get confirmatory geochemical results from potential off-site borrow sources. Borrow suppliers of coarse grain borrow interested in providing material to the project are invited to participate through this BuyandSell process. The request for information will include the details of the testing requirements.

Keeping workers safe on the Giant Mine site

The Giant Mine Remediation Project team is committed to safety. Anyone who comes onto the site must follow the site safety policies and procedures. The main construction manager’s site safety plan is provided to all of its contractors, and these sub-contractors also have to prepare their own site-specific health and safety plans for the type of work they will be doing. These plans must meet Parsons Corporation’s safety plans. Safety on site ranges from rules for wearing personal proactive equipment to analyzing potential hazards before starting any task. It also includes different types of monitoring.

One activity the project uses to keep workers safe is the air quality monitoring program. The program provides data for activities on the site, with action levels that are protective of adverse effects to people or the environment. The project uses activity-specific monitoring where active work is taking place so that if one of the air monitors detect a spike in dust, the workers take action. This could mean watering the area to keep the dust down, or even stopping the work.

Workers and visitors on site are also expected to do a site safety orientation and to wear personal protective equipment to ensure their safety. Anyone entering a work area must wear, at a minimum, Canadian Standards Association-approved gear that includes:

A person wearing personal protective equipment that includes a hard hat, safety glasses, a reflective vest, gloves, and safety boots examines a layer of hardened dust on top of tailings.
A PSPC staff member examines the "crust" that SoilTac formed on the tailings as part of dust suppression activities.

Additional personal protective equipment might be required for other specific tasks. For example, workers wear hearing protection around heavy equipment. Workers also complete a job safety assessment to determine what extra protective equipment should be used for the different types of work being performed at the site.

Workers also have rules to follow for the clothing they wear on the site, to make sure that dirt and dust from the site stays on the site. Coveralls, outer work clothes and equipment with dirt on it is not allowed to leave the site. Instead, they must be cleaned or laundered in a designated area of the site.

All employees and subcontractors working at the Giant Mine site in active work areas also follow a medical monitoring program. This monitoring starts immediately following the orientation or upon their arrival at the site. The workers provide a urine sample at that time, so it can be tested to establish their baseline level of arsenic. Depending on the work they do, they will provide weekly or monthly samples.

Water licence update

The water licence process is now well under way. Technical sessions took place in June and September 2019. Following that part of the process, parties were able to submit requests to get specific information from the project team. The project team then provided responses. These are available on the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board’s Public Registry.

The next part of the process was the public hearings. These took place January 20 to 24, 2020. Interventions (written submissions by interveners) were submitted by all parties, and interveners (a formal status granted by the board) then made presentations to the board. This included a presentation by the project team. Members of the public also had the opportunity to speak even if they were not formal interveners. For more information, please contact the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board directly.

Five people are visible sitting behind tables, listening to a presentation.
Project team members listen to interveners present at the public hearings.
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